The street scene has been filled with masks for months, children and parents sit at home and anyone who turns on the television is immediately confronted with an unprecedented crisis. And the end is not yet in sight. What impact does this have on young children?
From recently British research shows, among other things, that more than a quarter of children between the ages of five and sixteen do not sleep well. Children whose parents experienced mental stress during the pandemic were also more likely to have health problems themselves.
That doesn’t surprise developmental psychologist Elly Singer. “When parents are tense and anxious, children are already aware of this as babies. This has also been shown, for example, from research into war situations and into parents and depression.” Tension and stress in the household can manifest itself in different ways in children. “It can affect the sleep rhythm of children or maybe your child suddenly starts to urinate in bed. So pay attention to these signals.”
“It’s about reassuring the child. If you tell more without being asked than they are asking for, bears will hit the road. ”
Elly Singer, Developmental Psychologist
Small pots, big ears
It can be difficult for parents to hide their own tensions from children. “Especially if you live in a small house with a large family, for example,” pedagogue Anja Booi knows from experience. “Be aware that adults’ frustrations and concerns are discussed with each other. Small pots have big ears, my grandmother used to say. If you live in a small house, for example, make sure you don’t have adult discussions about corona until the children go to they are in bed. That way they experience less of the tension. “
“Young children can say very practical and special things. As a parent, try to connect to that. ”
Anja Booi, educator
Entering into a conversation with children about sensitive topics is not always easy. Booi tips: “Young children can say very practical and special things. Try to connect with them as a parent. Answer questions that the child comes up with. And keep the conversations at child level.”
‘It’s about reassuring them’
It Youth news can also offer a solution to educate your child about corona. “That is of course for slightly older children,” said Singer. “But this is how you can have someone else explain the corona crisis to your child Youth news is really doing great. “
Furthermore, the developmental psychologist advises to approach the conversation about corona in the same way as sex education. “With young children, respond to what they ask and do not tell stories about things they have never thought of themselves. The point is that you reassure the child. If you tell more unsolicited, bears will get in the way. she unnecessarily anxious. “
“All those talking heads on TV don’t interest a child. I think an earthquake with images of bodies is scarier than Jaap van Dissel who says that the corona numbers are going up. ”
Elly Singer, Developmental Psychologist
As a parent or caregiver, you can safely leave the ‘normal’ news on, says Singer. “All those talking heads at the table do not interest a child. I think an earthquake, with all kinds of images of corpses, is more scary than Jaap van Dissel announcing that the corona numbers have gone up.”
Asking good questions
To make a difficult subject such as corona negotiable, the Family Supporters youth care institution even developed a corona question card game. “Due to all the stress at home about home education and working from home, a good conversation can be lost. This applies in particular to families with problems already”, says remedial educationalist Sanne Grift.
“For some parents it can be difficult to find the right questions to ask their child. This card game contains questions such as, ‘If you were prime minister, what action would you take?’ With these types of questions you can connect in an easily accessible way to the perception of your child and normalize the corona crisis. “
Is it still a bit fun at home? Paint the bathroom with shaving cream or play limo-pong together.
Pedagogue Booi concludes with a plea for a well-thought-out reopening of shelter and schools. “Normally, the living environment of children only gets bigger after a year or two: the petting zoo, the library, social contacts with peers. That would help children as a distraction during this crisis.”